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Ohio's capital city sizzles even when temperatures dip

November 5, 2014

During the groundbreaking of its new wing, the Columbus Museum of Art launched an exhibition of works by acclaimed painter and native son George Bellows. To mark the occasion, Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, took inspiration from Bellows’ 1913 seascape Churn and Break and churned out a sweet treat—Sea Salt and Plum Jam ice-cream sandwiches tinted frothy shades of blue and green.
That singular museum event typifies the creativity, culture and cuisine that help make Ohio’s capital city so special. Visitors are quick to learn what its citizens know well: Columbus has an energetic vibe, friendly attitude and adventurous spirit. And the food is pretty fabulous, too.
Located in the heart of Ohio’s bountiful farmlands, Columbus is a locavore’s haven. Foodies can sample house-smoked bologna and cottage ham at Thurn’s Specialty Meats; savor brunch at Skillet, which makes hash with Ohio-raised heritage pork; and enjoy sips of Middle West Spirits’ smooth OYO Vodka, produced from local red wheat.
Winter Wonderland
Winter is a perfect time to experience Columbus. Visitors can soak up the city’s arts scene inside museums and galleries; enjoy holiday traditions ranging from the Ohio Theatre’s beloved Nutcracker performances to German Village’s luminarias and horse-drawn carriage rides; and experience the fun of Buckeyes basketball and Columbus Blue Jackets ice hockey.
During winter’s long nights, the city sparkles. Illuminated trees reflect off the river at Scioto Mile park. A glowing hat-box-style cupola adorns Ohio’s Statehouse. Bursts of color radiate from Franklin Park Conservatory. And lighted arches define the Short North arts district.
Appreciating the season’s ambience is easy because High Street is the north-south axis that links everything in Columbus. City neighborhoods cluster along the street like a string of pearls, and each is a gem for visitors to discover.
University District
The Ohio State University’s hub is the Oval, an open mall graced by Orton Hall’s melodious chimes and one of the world’s finest contemporary arts institutions, the Wexner Center for the Arts. The Wex is worth visiting simply for its architecture (a blend of modern metal grids and medieval-looking brick turrets), but its programming—including acclaimed artwork, in­ter­national films and live performances—is ambitious and cutting-edge.
In celebration of its 25th anniversary, The Wex is hosting an exhibition of the personal collection of Leslie and Abigail Wexner. Museum goers can view “Transfigurations: Modern Masters from the Wexner Family Collection” through Dec. 31.
While football in iconic, horseshoe-shaped Ohio Stadium consumes Columbus during the fall, attention shifts from the Shoe to the Schott for winter basketball and ice hockey at Schottenstein Center. Off-campus bars and eateries are everywhere, but to rub shoulders with the Buckeye faithful, visitors should check out the Varsity Club (legendary sauerkraut balls), Tommy’s Pizza (thin crusts, square cuts) or Cap City Fine Diner (classic meatloaf with a modern twist).
Arena District
How many cities get to transform 75 acres of prime property? Columbus did when it replaced an old penitentiary with a vibrant entertainment district whose showpiece is Nationwide Arena, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
This winter the arena will host both the National Hockey League’s All-Star Skills Competition (Jan. 24) and NHL All-Star Game (Jan. 25). Out of towners will learn what locals already know—every arena seat offers a good view and the venue tempts fans with a range of food options.
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